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The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


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Women’s rugby ends season nationally ranked

Courtesy of AJ Conway
Members of the women’s club rugby team hold their jerseys after the last practice of their most recent season in 2023.

In each of its last two seasons, the Kent State women’s club rugby has ranked in the top ten nationally.

The team, which competes in the Division I National Collegiate Rugby in a fall season, does not cut players and does not hold tryouts. Its roster comprises 35 players, some of whom joined as true beginners. 

But they are taught everything they need to know, team president and captain Sophia Schweitzer said. 

“Anyone is able to join,” she said. “We have a lot of players that started off not knowing anything about rugby or even played a sport before.”

The Flashes have won six conference championships in the last 11 years, and their most recent season ended in December. 

The basics

Schweitzer said rugby is a physical sport.

In a standard rugby game, there are two 40-minute halves, with 15 players on the field for each team. The sport of rugby is most similar to football. The ball is a similar shape, and the field is just over 100 yards.

Players can score the five points by getting the ball into the try zone, which would be the equivalent of the end zone in football.

Afterward, the scoring team can kick an uncontested kick through the goalposts for another two points, which is called a conversion.

A team can also try a dropkick, which is when the ball is tossed back to the kicking player. This athlete then attempts to dropkick it through the goal posts while teammates block the opponents who are trying to block the kick. This is worth three points.

A penalty is similar to a conversion but occurs after one team commits a penalty, which is worth three points.

Players do not wear pads or helmets and for many minutes of the game, Schweitzer said players are sprinting. 

“It does get physically demanding towards the end of the season,” Schweitzer said. “But you also get used to it in a way, and you get into a rhythm with it as well.” 

A little history

Kent State is part of National Collegiate Rugby, which is considered to be Division I.

The team saw immediate success after its 1977 inception, as the team won the Mid-American Conference championship in each of its first two seasons, according to the team’s website.

After going over 30 years without winning another conference championship, Kent State was on top of the MAC in 2009 and a dominant three-year run in 2013. The team won the conference in 2013, 2014 and 2015. 

In 2017, shortly after joining the Allegheny Rugby Union conference, the team won the MAC in that year and in 2018 and 2021.

This past season

The team plays six to eight games a season. 

Though they have never been in the NCAA, there are only 28 NCAA-affiliated women’s rugby teams across divisions I, II and III.

This past season, the team went 7-2 in the regular season and did not win the conference, but it did compete in its first national championship in Houston, Texas.

In Kent State’s 2022 season opener, the Flashes defeated Bowling Green 58-15. The Falcons had 13 members, so the Flashes had the advantage this game, making more substitutions and rotating players out on the field that were well-rested.

Next season, which begins in September, the Flashes will look to avoid their longest streak of not winning a conference championship since 2010-12. The team will hope to compete in the national championship in January 2025.

Demetri Manousos is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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